How to instill ‘coaching’ in your company culture

It is no secret that many industries today face a shortage of experienced labor. With an aging population and the recent recession causing a shake-up at a number of organizations, experience has become an increasingly valuable commodity. 

In certain fields, particularly the oil and gas industries, a lack of experienced workers can also bring safety concerns. To address these concerns, it is important for organizations to embrace the benefits that coaching can have on employee development and building a workforce that is aligned to organizational goals. 

At some companies, coaching can be confused with punishment or a lack of productivity, with the idea that coaching is meant to "fix" problem employees. If managers view coaching solely as a means of addressing underperformance, employees will echo that belief. However, this view turns what could be an opportunity to maximize investment in human capital into a negative. 

Introducing a positive view of coaching at your organization and involving all levels of the company is not accomplished overnight. To realize the benefits of an effective coaching culture, and the increased employee engagement and satisfaction that can follow, leaders need to begin by establishing support and championing the cause. Select a respected leader who believes in the benefits that a coaching culture can bring to the company, and then consider what resources they will need to address problems with the perception of coaching in the existing culture. 

It is important to stress that coaching will be available to everyone at all levels of the organization, regardless of current performance. This serves to locate the early-adopters of the program, who will show their coworkers that coaching can have significant benefits on development and carries no stigma. 

The next step is to determine the type of coaching culture you hope to instill. Although the coaching relationships will be slightly different for each group, depending on the dynamic between the coach and employee, it is often beneficial to have a standard "guideline" in the introduction of new programs. For example, will coaching relationships in the organization be more formal, with managers coaching their direct reports and setting meeting and check-in times? Or would a more informal approach better for your employees, where coaches are encouraged to approach promising employees in other departments and deal with more general skills development?

In our next piece on this blog, we will continue to explore the best means of introducing a coaching culture, the importance of delivering regular coaching and the benefits of internal and external coaches. If your organization is already struggling to move in a new direction, change management consulting can help to identify roadblocks and bring teams on board.